And these prophetic words come to life not just in Jesus’ suffering, but in his anguished prayer before his betrayal: And going a little farther, he threw himself on the ground and prayed that, if it were possible, the hour might pass from him. He said, "Abba, Father, for you all things are possible; remove this cup from me; yet, not what I want, but what you want. Though Jesus himself desired to escape his suffering, the humility he expressed, the abandonment of self-determination, the emptying of himself and taking the form of a slave…these things mark Jesus as one who has given himself over to the mystery of salvation, though the depth of that mystery may not have been fully known even to him.
Having this same attitude, it seems, is a good way to enter Holy Week and experience it not just as a historical remembrance, but an opportunity to delve deeper into the mystery of salvation, perhaps experiencing it as if for the first time. With the ears of students, with the attitude of one who says, “Not what I want, but what you want”, I wonder what wisdom we might acquire if we approach this week as people truly on a journey through suffering, towards the cross. To quote a wise monk: “For the time being, we pretend we don’t know how it all ends. For the time being, we reflect on our own hearts, we reflect on our own participation in the sordid cavalcade of the human condition. We ponder the ways we need to be restored, renewed, renovated, recreated—born again” To move too quickly to the empty tomb robs us of the opportunity to sit with our suffering, the suffering of others, and the suffering of the world, and recognizing that such suffering is shared by God in all aspects. Yes, we remain confident that “It is The Lord GOD who helps us”, but that confidence is not a barrier to more learning, to a deeper and richer experience of the life, death, and resurrection of Jesus Christ. In fact, such confidence enables us to live with our own pain as we live with the pain of Jesus.
*The texts were Isaiah 50:4-9a, Philippians 2:5-11, and Mark 14:1-15:47